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8 essential password tips

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  1. Acorn Newsbot

    Acorn Newsbot Junior Member

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    Your password is your first and best defence against online thieves who might try to steal your identity to access your shopping details and help themselves to some Christmas shopping at your expense. Follow a few simple tips to make sure your passwords are as strong as they need to be.


    1. Don’t make it obvious. Ever
    You’d think it wouldn’t need saying, but you’d be amazed at how many people make do with obvious passwords like their kids’ names or their own date of birth, just because they’re easier to remember. Celebrity socialite Paris Hilton’s email account was hacked simply because it was protected by the name of her dog.

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    1. Use different passwords for different sites
    Yes, it’s tempting to use the same password over and over again. But if a hacker gets hold of it, for whatever reason, they could clean out your other accounts before you have a chance to change it. Insurance companies may take a dim view if they feel you haven’t taken reasonable care to protect your accounts.

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    1. Use technology
    There are programs available which will collate your passwords and use them on the appropriate sites. Software such as LastPass or 1Password do all the hard work, and all you need to remember is one password (hopefully fiendishly difficult) to access the program. Your browser offers this facility too, but use it with caution – if your computer is stolen, you might have made it easy for the thieves to access your accounts.

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    1. Check your password’s security rating
    Some sites will tell you if the password you’re suggesting is a secure one or not. If they don’t, there are other services, including the Microsoft password checker, that will do it for you.

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    1. Pick a long password
    Even if you’ve got a thoroughly obscure and hard-to-guess password, the shorter it is, the weaker it is, because hackers can use computers to ‘brute force’ an account. This works by trying every possible configuration until they find the right one. With current computer processing speeds, this is only feasible with short passwords – four digit passwords can be broken in a matter of hours, but passwords with eight digits or more can take years.

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    1. Consider a pass phrase
    They’re easy to remember, but very hard for computers to crack. A simple, preferably random phrase like ‘penguins-dig-5-Porsches’ is much more secure than something like ‘passw0rd’.

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    1. Use difficult questions and answers
    If you’re asked security questions as part of your registration, never go for something that can be easily researched, like your mother’s maiden name. Pose your own question and answer if possible, or even lie with an answer that only you know about.

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    1. Don’t write passwords down
    Not only are they likely to be seen and used at some point, there have also been cases of victims of online theft voiding their insurance because they were seen to have taken insufficient care with their security.

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  2. Domain Forum

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